The Operating System
Last week we looked at identifying which Mac you have. Once you know that you need to know which version of the Operating System runs your computer.
The Operating System is the set of basic and essential instructions which simply make your computer work. The Operating System (or OS) dictates what the computer should do when you switch it on. It directs the monitor to light up and show data, it makes it possible for the keyboard and mouse to send instructions, it allows you to trash files and make folders and do all those basic things.
Over the years the OS has developed and Apple periodically release new versions. Each version offers features that previous versions did not. When you are having problems with your computer, or asking for help in using it, it’s crucial to know which OS you’re running as the answers might be very different for older versions or newer versions.
There are various ways to find out which OS you have, but one important place to look has always been the first item on the Apple Menu while in the Finder. In the past that item was called About this Macintosh, but these days it’s called About this Computer.
Note that if you’re in some other program than the Finder, the first thing under the Apple menu is normally About [name of program] — eg About Eudora, About Appleworks.
First go to the Finder and then get the first thing from the Apple menu: About this Computer.
A window shows up with various bits of information.
In the top part and towards the right it should say which version of the Operating System you’re using. Mine says 9.2.1 but yours might have some other number such as 8.6 or 7.5.3.
Make a mental note of this number in case you need it in future.